The Karnataka State Cooperative Marketing Board (KSCMB) will open procurement centres and purchase coconut produce by offering support price from June 12.

Announcing this in the Assembly on Friday, Minister for Horticulture and Agriculture Marketing Shamanur Shivashankarappa assured to protect the interests of coconut growers facing problems because of diseases plaguing the crop and variation in the price.

He said that considering trading of copra much below the support price in the market, the government had directed National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) to commence procurement of copra through the centres at Rs. 5,500 per quintal.

In his reply to issue raised by Leader of Opposition H.D. Kumaraswamy and others, the Minister said that the Centre had announced Rs. 5,500 support price for copra on February 18 and identified the federation as its procuring agency and Karnataka government had identified KSCMB as its official agency.

Though the Centre had announced support price, NAFED had not commenced procurement fearing loss.

Coconut crop grown on 1,94,830 hectares was damaged. The government has allocated Rs.100 crore to pay compensation to the growers in Tumkur, Hassan, Chitradurga, Mandya, Chikmagalur, Mysore, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts, he said.

During the discussion on the issue, K.S. Puttannaiah of Sarvodaya Karnataka Party demanded setting up of Coconut Board to find permanent solution for the problems faced by coconut growers in 19 districts.

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